Jason Hill pays homage to the Venice Art Walls with a new series of mixed-media paintings and photographs

By Joe Piasecki

Hill’s digitally enhanced photos and painted dreamscapes explore sense of place evolving through time

Hill’s digitally enhanced photos and painted dreamscapes explore sense of place evolving through time

As a teenage skateboarder in the mid-1980s, Jason Hill was transfixed by the many images of the Venice Pavilion that would show up in Thrasher magazine — not only the skaters shooting off custom ramps, but also the graffiti-coated walls that surrounded them.

“It was like a ruin, taken over by all these urban punks,” Hill says. “I always thought of Venice as this kind of outlaw place.”

The Venice Pavilion was long gone by the time Hill opened up his Venice graphic design studio in 2012, but its legacy remains in the Venice Art Walls just off Windward Avenue. When the city tore down the pavilion in 1999, some of the pavilion’s original walls were left in place as this living monument to the street art that had come before.

Hill, who creates The Argonaut’s monthly Venice Stories graphic panel, celebrates his first solo exhibition in his adopted creative home with a series of photographs and hand-painted photographic prints that celebrate the Venice Art Walls’ ongoing cultural legacy.

They go on display this weekend at WNDO, a roughly 800-square-foot creative space (with a window) on Vernon Avenue that longtime Venice arts community fixture Jim Budman shares with artists Jason Drake and Bisco Smith.

Hill’s “Venice Art Walls” exhibit features a wall-sized grid of 20 digitally manipulated photographic prints, each of them an image of the Venice Art Walls shot from the same perspective but at different times over the past couple of years.

There are also his mixed-media “dreamscapes,” large photographic prints to which Hill added touches of opaque paint for an enhanced surreal effect on the metallic photo paper.

“I like what he does with color,” Budman says of Hill’s new works. “The colors are just great.”

Though not documentary in intent, Hill’s artistic interpretations of the Venice Art Walls speak to an evolution of sense-of-place over the passage of time — the graffiti on the walls changing with each new creation, people passing through.

“Artists travel from all over the world to use the Venice Art Walls as a canvass. It changes every day,” Hill says. “For me, this is the focal point of the spiritual center of Venice.”

Jason Hill’s “Venice Art Walls” exhibition kicks off with a reception from 7 to 10 p.m. Friday and remains on public display from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday at WNDO, 361 Vernon Ave., Venice. Visit jasonhilldesign.com and wndospace.com for more information.